12 Photos from '12

Since Project 365 dominated my blogging life in 2012, I thought I’d do a year-in-review with photos. Despite life-devouring grad school, it was a pretty epic year.

Click the photos to read the entries.

[caption id=“attachment_9284” align=“aligncenter” width=“461”]Day 59 of Project 365: Blueglow I battled seasonal affective disorder.[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_9286” align=“aligncenter” width=“461”]Day 102 of Project 365: Hanging Out I started weekly Google+ Hangouts for my grad school program.[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_8250” align=“aligncenter” width=“461”]The Kettle and I I had my first short story publication.[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_9288” align=“aligncenter” width=“461”]Day 159 of Project 365: Magic Horses I discovered more of this magical place with local friends and faraway ones who visited.[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_7849” align=“aligncenter” width=“461”]I did my first spoken word performance in Edinburgh. I did my first spoken word performance in Edinburgh.[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_9294” align=“aligncenter” width=“461”]Day 255 of Project 365: Inner Depths I saw the Fringe for the first time.[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_9276” align=“aligncenter” width=“461”]Day 278 of Project 365: Together I stood up for the wedding of dear friends.[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_8456” align=“aligncenter” width=“461”]Day 319 of Project 365: Bupa Great Edinburgh Run 5K I ran my first race.[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_8605” align=“aligncenter” width=“461”]Day 332 of Project 365: Easy-Peasy I cooked and ate a ton of food.[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_8646” align=“aligncenter” width=“461”]Day 335 of Project 365: Séance Fiction I joined Writers’ Bloc.[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_9279” align=“aligncenter” width=“461”]Commencement, Finally Although this wasn’t a Project 365 photo, I have to include it: I finished library school! (Photo by Tom Lally.)[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_8819” align=“aligncenter” width=“461”]Day 347 of Project 365: All Lined Up And I got to share it all with my favourite person.[/caption]

Happy New Year, everyone. Thanks for reading.

Curry, chicken, and cheer.

Well, my participation in Holidailies wasn’t very participatory this year. No matter. I’d trade a million journal entries for the December I’ve had.

Right now I am feeling low, post-commencement and post-vacation whirlwind, and more than a little homesick. While in Chicago, my mom and I shared a treat of Whole Foods’ curried chicken salad. FunkyPlaid and I used to get this from the deli counter, and I had forgotten how much I love the taste. I vowed to find a good recipe for this when I returned to Edinburgh, so I could make it whenever I needed a culinary hug from home.

Print Recipe

Curried Chicken Salad

This is the best approximation I've found of Whole Foods' delicious curried chicken salad. Thank you, Beth Garrison!


Course: Lunch

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 15 Min

Cook Time: 45 Min

Total Time: 1 Hr

Serves: 4


  • 4 chicken thighs whole
  • 1 lemon quartered
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp dried currants


  1. Put the chicken thighs, lemon, and cilantro into a skillet or saucepan. Fill with water just to cover the chicken and season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. Cook until the chicken is tender and falling from the bones, about 40 to 45 minutes (note: I just throw it in the oven and bake instead of poaching it).
  2. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and allow cooling. When cool, remove the skin and strip the meat from the bones, discarding the skin and bones. Reserve the meat.
  3. In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise, curry, honey, and lemon juice. Stir in the scallions, celery, and currants until combined. Add the cooled chicken meat and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

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Moral support.

Although this last push of coursework has not been what I would ever describe as fun, I have been receiving moral support from all quarters. Some furrier than others, as you can see.

Moral support.

Today my dad and I visited my childhood home as well as one of my alma maters. For many years I saw these places through the lenses of my failings, but today I was suffused with warmth and could not stop smiling.

gratitude: looking back on a childhood filled with joy and creativity and love · getting to grow up in small-town and big-city America · less than a week of coursework to go

Running past the past.

Today my dad and I took Mister Vic out to Woodcock. It was raining steadily as we got out of the car and headed to the trail. Vic's long ears and feathered tail were soon soaked, but he didn't mind a bit. We walked together for a while, and then my dad pointed up the trail, and I ran.

I didn't run particularly fast, since I haven't trained in a while, and I didn't run for very long. But I ran right past the spot on the dam where I was unceremoniously dumped all those years ago, even though I really should have seen it coming.

That's where I learned that you shouldn't beg someone not to leave you, not because it might work but because you'll both always know that you did.

Holiday Dinner

The present is a happier place. My dad, stepmom, and I had another lovely meal together tonight and exchanged gifts. Right now I am fussing over my brand-new iPad and wireless keyboard! It has been impossible to focus on coursework tonight, although I really should do something coursework-related before I go to bed.

I can't wait until I am a librarian and have a job and can give gifts to my loved ones that are as generous and thoughtful as the gifts they give me.

There is so much meat.

Today, in an American supermarket, I saw Little Hugs fruit drinks and instinctively reached out to tap one fingernail against their foil caps, the sound and feeling transporting me to grade school. I also spent five minutes debating which baby kosher dill pickles to buy, and I took a picture of the deli counter because it had more meat than I remember seeing in one place in a long time.

There is so much meat.

Hello, Holidailies compatriots. It is traditional to introduce oneself at the beginning of Holidailies, so here goes: I am Halsted, and I am about to become a librarian, and I am visiting family in the States after a long time away. There are more facts about me in a long list. I also try to come up with three things I am grateful for each day, hence the “gratitude” bit at the end of each entry.

I have so much to tell you, but homework must take precedence for now.

gratitude: vanquishing jetlag · sharing a delicious home-cooked meal with family · starting on my very last grad school project

The Next Big Thing

I’m taking a short break from the end-of-semester craziness to participate in a fun writerly meme called The Next Big Thing. I have been tapped by my fascinating and talented Writers’ Bloc comrade Kirsti Wishart to share what I am working on now by answering this short questionnaire. So here goes …

1. What’s the title of your latest story? “Still Are the Thoughts to Memory Dear” – a gently-borrowed line from Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem Rockeby. The line has rolled around in my head for quite some time, and then when I started to write the story it happened to fit the subject and the appearance of the Scott Monument.

2. Where did the idea for the story come from? I dreamed it. Such a cliché! Usually dreams skitter out of my brain before I can grab their little legs and write them down. This one stuck around long enough for me to write a half-page of notes.

3. What genre does your story fall under? Slipstream, I think.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie? This is a fun question! I normally don’t think about this. So here goes … click any of these to embiggen.

[gallery link=“file” columns=“2”]

Mara is supposed to look a bit older and careworn than the rest, so I tried to find a less flattering photo of Laura Fraser. Can I tell you how difficult that is? She’s gorgeous.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your story? Oof, I’m terrible at these. But here goes (confusion intentional): “Mara invited her best friends to her birthday party, and they showed up anyway.”

6. Will your story be self-published or represented by an agency? After one last revision, I will try to find it a good home.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft? The first draft was born on the 19th of April, but I am in grad school, so my time to spend revising it has been limited.

8. What other stories would you compare it to within your genre? I wish I could. Due to the aforementioned master’s degree, my memory is shot, and I haven’t been reading much for pleasure. I do know that parts of it have been influenced by Iain Banks’ The Bridge because it is one of my favourite books. During the story’s last crit, another Bloc comrade glimpsed a dash of “Last Year at Marienbad” in there too.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this story? I was in Cat Rambo’s fantasy and science fiction story workshop and figured I might as well try to make this idea work so I had a story for crit. Thank goodness I did, because it turned into a story I like.

10. What else about your story might pique a reader’s interest? The trams make an appearance. As actual functioning trams. That alone makes it a speculative fiction story, right?

I did not have much time to solicit victims participants who weren’t dreadfully busy and who I thought wouldn’t mind the chain-lettery nature of this. And some were already tapped, like Tracey S. Rosenberg, whose next big thing is signed and on my to-read pile. But I am very happy to pass this along to:

  1. William Shunn, someone you might already know from his fantastic proper manuscript format page. He is also a multitalented, award-nominated writer who hosts Tuesday Funk, Chicago’s monthly reading series. I wish I still lived there so I could participate.
  2. Tom M. Franklin, whose charming and insightful blog about writing is one of my favourites.

Day 365 of Project 365: Complete

It has been a bizarre, wonderful, exhausting, and exhilarating year. I took many photos of cats and notebooks and food. I saw my first Fringe, the wedding of dear friends, and the ending of my favourite game. I spent time with friends in real life and in virtual worlds. I did stupid amounts of coursework and not enough anything else.

When I started this project a year ago, I didn’t think taking a photo a day would be so tough. And I don’t think it would be so tough for the person I want to be. That person has the time to be something other than a student, the energy to explore the world around her, and the presence of mind to enjoy it, photographed or not.

So I’m going to go be her now. But before I go, thank you. Thank you for every comment and every email, every pat on the back and every reality check. I needed them all. Here, have a slice of pie. Heck, have two! You’ve earned them.

Day 365 of Project 365: Complete

gratitude: amazing friends who cooked us an excellent Thanksgiving dinner tonight, with roast turkey and everything · all of my family and friends, new and old, here and there, for supporting me throughout this year · not having to take any photos tomorrow!

Day 364 of Project 365: Old and New

I spend much of my days with these two surfaces, notebook and tablet, fountain pen and stylus, words and code.

Day 364 of Project 365: Old and New

This photo pretty much sums me up as a person, not only in the specific tools I appreciate but in the sensibilities I inhabit.

Today I got pretty worked up over coursework again. These group projects … I know that the entire working world is comprised of group projects, I really do know that. But in the working world, at least I could motivate people with paychecks or the lack thereof. I’m at a total loss as to how to motivate my colleagues in library school.

So I just won’t. Head down, finish my own stuff, and document everything in the final assessment. I guess that sounds mean. Self-preservation feels a little mean.

gratitude: Rachel, who is not only in library school but law school concurrently and still makes time to commiserate with me over shell scripts and server load · having very patient cats and a very patient FunkyPlaid who put up with my harassment during homework breaks · only one more day of Project 365 to go!

A Timeline of Future Events from The Awl

In my G+ stream today, I was delighted to see A Timeline of Future Events from The Awl. (These are all events from novels and short stories, but there is also a timeline from films.) My favourite? 2050: "All human technology is destroyed." I might be a little tired of information policy right now, though.

Word of the Moment: smultronstället

Courtesy of Otherwordly, a new favourite blog:

smultronstället. (n.) lit. "place of wild strawberries"; a special place discovered, treasured, returned to for solace and relaxation; a personal idyll free from stress or sadness

Where is your smultronstället?

Day 363 of Project 365: December, I'm Yours

Project 365 might be ending, but you won’t be rid of me just yet. I am participating in Holidailies again this year, writing once a day for the month of December. I even have a fancy banner, courtesy of FunkyPlaid:


I am eager to get back to writing about what’s going on instead of scrambling for a photograph to share at 5 minutes to midnight.

Also, “December” starts to look very sinister when repeated.

Day 363 of Project 365: December, I'm Yours

gratitude: looking forward to not thinking about information policy someday soon · looking forward to my trip to the States · looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner (yes, really, with turkey and everything)

Day 362 of Project 365: Fall in Line

Before I went gluten-free, I was too intimidated to try making homemade lasagne. Even though I knew it was basically just layer-cake pasta – how hard can that be? – I avoided making it.

Post G-Day, one of the first recipes I learned how to make was polenta vegetable lasagne. Using pre-cooked polenta and jarred pasta sauce it is one of the easiest recipes I make.

But that’s just a little too easy. Feeling confident some months ago, I decided to purchase gluten-free lasagne noodles from Tesco. And promptly got intimidated again.

Today I’ve been feeling quite sassy. I sent that email and let go of a bunch of stress. Not all of it, but a lot of it. I even indulged in a mid-afternoon nap. So tonight I saw those noodles in the cupboard and decided what the hell.

So easy.

My favourite part, of course, was lining up all the partially-cooked lasagne noodles. I couldn’t trust them to behave at that point, though, so this is a ‘before’ photo. Look at how orderly!

Day 362 of Project 365: Fall in Line

gratitude: finishing the second sleeve of FunkyPlaid’s jumper · crossing off more items on my task list · that nap

Day 361 of Project 365: Crumpled Swan

Ah, the inevitable meltdown: a miserable yet crucial milestone in the last semester of grad school experience.

At least it enabled me to see how much perspective I have lost, and how I have to distance myself emotionally from these deadlines because they’re just not worth it.

Physically, I am a mess, and skipping my training runs hasn’t helped that at all so I need to get back in that groove immediately. Emotionally, I am a snarled ball of poopy feelings. That’s the technical term for it.

I am the assigned project manager for one of the assignments that has been frustrating me. The only thing I know how to do there is to write one final “this is how we will accomplish our goals” email and hope it is well-received. Here goes nothing …

Day 361 of Project 365: Crumpled Swan

gratitude: all those horrendous management situations I have experienced in the real world, so I at least have the tools to deal with this, even when I don’t want to · dog rescue videos · FunkyPlaid, for picking up the slack

Day 360 of Project 365: Things That Fall

My to-do list total fell from 19 to 12! In a few minutes, that number will rise to 17, but we’ll focus on the small win for now.

I sleep a lot this time of year, but don’t feel particularly rested. As a result, today had a dreamlike quality to it, enhanced by the rain at dusk viewed through those wavy panes.

Day 360 of Project 365: Things That Fall

gratitude: getting help and focus from my friend and fellow classmate B · neverending cups of tea · time for a game of QatQi before sleep

Day 359 of Project 365: Paws Up

Sometimes you just have to ditch the crappy attitude and snuggle a cat.

Day 359 of Project 365: Paws Up

Harry agrees.

gratitude: the healing power of purring · the healing power of cursing · the healing power of “three more weeks”

Day 358 of Project 365: Looking Forward To

One of the things I have been looking forward to doing, post-graduation, is spending more time playing a game called Glitch. Over the past two years I have played it when I have the time, which isn’t often, but it is just the kind of game I enjoy, a massively multiplayer environment with plenty of surreal and amusing puzzles and projects to do and share. I was developing some of my own ideas in Glitch, too, like creating a public library system (big surprise there) and organising subway parties (another shocker) among other things.

Today I found out that Glitch is closing the day after I graduate.

That’s all I’ve got right now. That and this weird photo of my desk I took in Percolator.

Day 358 of Project 365: Looking Forward

gratitude: Tiny Speck for all their hard work on such a wonderful game · all the great players I got to know · my favourite game character, The Rube, whose theme music is my phone’s ringtone

Day 357 of Project 365: Unravel

I’m barely keeping up with everything, and my immune system has cracked under the strain of it all. I took a little break to knit a few rows of this sleeve and calm down, but the calm didn’t last.

Day 357 of Project 365: Unravel

The worst part is that I have grown quite resentful for how much I have been covering for other people in my courses because I don’t feel like anyone is covering for me in return. I send out tons of email and spend hours doing more than my fair share of group work, and get almost nothing back. It’s disheartening. And I’m sick and sad and need help.

gratitude: cap, gown, hood, and tassel have been ordered · commencement tickets have been set aside · this feeling can’t last forever

Day 356 of Project 365: On Happiness

About a decade ago, I lost a friendship that I thought I’d have forever. While we were still friends, she taught me about philology and bravery and some other things I stuck in the “wisdom” bucket to carry along with me. One of these things was a comment I think about every time I write here. She told me that when people are truly happy, they don’t have to write about it online.

At the time, I took this as criticism. I felt very defensive about my online journal, and her words stung because I thought she meant that I wasn’t truly happy whenever I wrote that I was, that I was lying somehow. Now that I am a decade older and wiser, I think I get it. I don’t try to write about being happy anymore. I try not to even think about it in concrete terms. The more I think about “happiness” as an achievable goal, the more it makes me laugh. What a surreal goal to have! What does it even mean? And what would I write about it?

Once I let go of how to phrase my happiness, how to craft the words to explicate it perfectly, I realised that I had no idea what actually made me happy. I had been writing what I thought other people would read as “happiness”, like a good job, good relationship, good home, etc. But what did I believe? What do I believe?

I’m still trying to figure that out. And the sigil in today’s photo is part of both the source and the discovery.

Day 356 of Project 365: On Happiness

gratitude: the luxury of contemplating topics like these · the subject of the sigil · that bit of truth from that friend – thank you, wherever you are

Day 355 of Project 365: Blurry, Dammit

My phone was choking on the auto-focus because it was too dark, and I mashed on the button because I wanted it blurry, dammit. And it came out blurry! Then it immediately took a non-blurry photo. I think it was embarrassed.

This is another example of a photo I’d like to learn to take on purpose. Ten days before this project ends and I’ve finally found some inspiration. Figures.

Day 355 of Project 365: Blurry, Dammit

gratitude: chocolate for dinner (mole veggie chilli) · clawing through my own crappy attitude to get stuff done · sometimes just playing Tiny Tower instead

Day 354 of Project 365: Painter

It was a happy accident that I caught FunkyPlaid’s hands in the window’s reflection. That’s the kind of trick I’d like to learn to do with my dSLR. I’d also like to take better photos of FunkyPlaid’s painting projects.

Also, FunkyPlaid is home, yay!

Day 354 of Project 365: Painter

gratitude: coffee with a new friend this afternoon · trying black olive hummus for that hummus-crusted chicken I love to make · two productive back-to-back meetings right before my brain gave out

Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay. In the modern state there are very few sites where this is possible. The only others that come readily to my mind require belief in an omnipotent creator as a condition for membership. It would seem the most obvious thing in the world to say that the reason why the market is not an efficient solution to libraries is because the market has no use for a library. But it seems we need, right now, to keep re-stating the obvious. There aren’t many institutions left that fit so precisely Keynes’ definition of things that no one else but the state is willing to take on. Nor can the experience of library life be recreated online. It’s not just a matter of free books. A library is a different kind of social reality (of the three dimensional kind), which by its very existence teaches a system of values beyond the fiscal.

Zadie Smith, in the New York Review of Books. (via thebronzemedal)

Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay. In the modern state there are very few sites where this is possible. The only others that come readily to my mind require belief in an omnipotent creator as a condition for membership. It would seem the most obvious thing in the world to say that the reason why the market is not an efficient solution to libraries is because the market has no use for a library. But it seems we need, right now, to keep re-stating the obvious. There aren’t many institutions left that fit so precisely Keynes’ definition of things that no one else but the state is willing to take on. Nor can the experience of library life be recreated online. It’s not just a matter of free books. A library is a different kind of social reality (of the three dimensional kind), which by its very existence teaches a system of values beyond the fiscal.

Zadie Smith, in the New York Review of Books. (via thebronzemedal)

Day 353 of Project 365: Meer-ly a Snap

I had high hopes for today’s photo because I took my dSLR to the zoo. The sad fact is that I don’t have the time or energy to post-process anything right now. So, if you can forgive the pun, today you get meer-ly a snap.

Day 353 of Project 365: Meer-ly a Snap

When Project 365 is over, I won’t be restarting it. As a documentary exercise, it has been useful, but my photographic skills have not improved. Many days I actively resent having to find something to photograph. After an enlightening conversation with friends tonight, I think I will post a non-snapshot photo a week in 2013. Snaps and blather will still clutter the pages of this journal, but the focus (not another pun) will be on challenging myself to develop (please make it stop) my dSLR skills.

gratitude: some well-deserved time off with friends today · falling back in love with my macro lens · meerkats

Day 352 of Project 365: Kitchen Disappointment

I had a little cold last week and planned to make myself some chicken soup, so I solicited recipes. One that particularly intrigued me was Courtney’s family’s “sick soup”, which is a form of arroz caldo de pollo. Time slipped away and my cold abated, but the ingredients remained in our fridge and needed to be used. Since I was so busy and unfocused today I decided to translate it into a slow-cooker recipe.

It did not work. My lack of skill resulted in a very bland and unappetising porridge-like dish. It did smell good while it was cooking, though. I will have to try the non-slow-cooker way when I have more time and presence of mind.

Day 352 of Project 365: Kitchen Disappointment

gratitude: there was something else in the fridge to eat · our dear Torgi’s blood sugar levels have normalised · my final portfolio for grad school was passed as submitted

Librarians: they bring order to chaos.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.